Sometimes living in a wonderful place presents challenges that for some might be a nice problem to have. Count us in. This past week we were blessed with nine, count ’em NINE, dear friends visiting from as far away as Japan. One was from Alaska, a bunch from LA, and a couple just popped up from the bay area for a day. The challenge, of course, is how to milk each guest for as much of their time as possible. Smoke from local fires notwithstanding, we enjoyed quality time with all our guests; wined ’em, dined ’em, hiked ’em and laughed. In the language of wine, the bouquet was complex—a long finish combined with a rich, fruity freshness.
With my 50th high school reunion coming up this fall, there have been an increasing number of classmates logging into the reunion website with updated bios. I resonated with Duke’s since he’d been hiking the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mexican border north. Very sensibly , I might add, because he’s not trying to do the entire distance in one trip. He started a couple years ago and I’m happy to say we were there to greet him at the completion of his journey. Installment by installment, he’d made it as far north as Crystal Crags and began the final assault to Oregon mid-July. Familiar with the myriad back roads characterizing the Siskiyou range separating California from Oregon, we met him on the 6th of August—on the trail, at the border, with a cold beer and some fresh watermelon. How about that, campers.
Another brief reference to the St. Francis reunion website. It features a secure environment for classmates wishing to contribute information for others to read. The bios have been amazing; it’s been fascinating reading how remarkably we’ve diversified. One classmate who I haven’t seen in 50 years happened to read on the site that we lived in Ashland and surprised us with a visit to see Luke celebrating his hike. That was the Alaska/Idaho connection and it really made the evening.
Long time friend, Lindy, one of the original members of the Arlington apartment gang, found time from her busy work schedule to fly up for a week of big trees and catching up. We snagged her at the airport and drove straight to Brookings on the coast. The next morning, we drove the Howland Hill Road to the trailhead of the Boy Scout Tree hike. Massive groves of majestic redwoods distract you along the 3-mile hike to the BS tree, and one must remember to glance down once in a while to see where your feet are heading along the rooty trail.
While all this was going on, another set of dear friends snuck into Ashland mid-week and caught a couple plays while we were playing in the mountains. On their final evening, we rendezvoused at Enoteca Wine Tasting and Bistro down on the Plaza. After a “tasting” of their finest, we each selected a glass and munched on some delicious cheeses to complete the treat. The best was yet to come, however, as a wonderful table at the peerless Peerless Hotel & Restaurant awaited us and supported our elbows for another 3 hours. We finished the evening by meeting the sous-chef dining at the bar and were astounded at the mountain of food he’d prepared for himself. But, hey, he was a huge guy and anyone who can make a Vichyssoise like the bowl I had can eat any damn thing he wants.
You really know your forever friends by how far they drive to see you for a day. We’ve got a couple lifers in Dave & Sumiko, who drove up from the bay area Saturday afternoon, arrived at 8p.m., and departed the following afternoon in order to pack and catch their flight back to Japan the next day. Sooney and I would have completely FREAKED doing what they did, so it was particularly enlightening to observe that it can be done. You simply have to place a priority on your friends, let the logistics fall as they may, and savor every moment. And if, in the process, you struggle with an unexpected ailment, they both endorsed Hippocrates Health Institute for a safe and healthy cure.